by Dan Stewart, Guest Reporter
The latest craze earlier this year was the new film adaptation of The Hunger Games. It’s the story of a future United States, now called “Panem”. In this future, the government and upper class have taken fascist-like control after a brutal rebellion of the people. As punishment, each one of the 12 districts of Panem must offer two kids as tributes to compete in the annual “Hunger Games”. In this event, all of the competitors are dropped into an arena, and are forced to fight to the death. However a new competitor, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence – X-Men First Class, Winter’s Bone) is taking it upon herself to try and rebel against this cruel and unusual form of punishment.
As an adaptation of a book, there’s always a split between those who have read the book, and those who did not. I highly believe that this alone will determine a major portion of your enjoyment of this film.
So you’ve read The Hunger Games. You’ll enjoy this film. All your favorite characters, scenes, and lines, are all lovingly visualized in this 2 and a half hour movie. You understand every inch of the characters, what they’re doing, and why they’re doing it. Maybe you’re not happy with the lack of violence, or why they didn’t fully include this part from the book. Nevertheless, you walk away from this movie pleased, and ready for the sequel.
So you didn’t read The Hunger Games (like myself). You’ll have to think about this one. Okay, so the entire plot is explained in the first 20 seconds, with text. There are tons of shout-outs and references to things you don’t fully understand, or don’t understand at all. What is this song that she’s singing? What’s this bird pin? What’s the deal with the three finger hand signal? Okay, I’ll give you those, they have to be symbols of the resistance. Okay, so what the hell is this thing with the bread? Why is he throwing it to her? Okay, seriously, explain this to me. Wait, so what purpose does the lady with the purple lipstick (Elizabeth Banks – Zack and Miri, Spider-Man Trilogy) serve? Seriously, WHAT is this?
The filmmakers, possibly to keep the movie under time constraints, decide to cater almost entirely to the readers. Which is fine, usually. You want the people who actually are big fans to enjoy it, but, you can’t just blatantly alienate the rest of the audience by cutting out all exposition. To me, a film is it’s own piece of work, and it should never require someone to read further to understand. Another first-of-the-series book adaptation, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, gives you all the plot you need to thoroughly enjoy the movie.
Another big issue I have with the film is the lack of violence. What makes The Hunger Games book/movie special is that it’s a dystopian society in which TEENS are forced to KILL EACH OTHER. It’s a dark and painful thought, having to kill someone. Even worse, these are kids, mostly 18, some as young as 11 or 12 that have to choose between killing and being killed. The shock value is the entire foundation for this story. Yet, there’s minimal violence. Instead of showing a brutal massacre when the games start, it’s three shots. Someone holding a weapon, the camera whipping around, and then a non-bloodied body on the ground. Wow, they might’ve just as well have had sparks fly out of their bodies like in the old Power Rangers series.
I’m not completely against the film, though. It has major issues, obviously, but it has a few redeeming qualities as well. For one, the movie does have some interesting shots, especially in the scene where Katniss aims her bow at the bag of apples. The soundtrack, is pretty unique as well. At times when the suspense has subsided, a blend of eastern strings and humming vocals. At times when they’re holding the glorious parade tributes, the sound is exactly that, glorious and heavenly. One of my favorite parts of the movie is Jennifer Lawrence. She plays her part excellently, and as a bonus, she sure is easy on the eyes.
-Game Maker: Suzanne Collins and The Hunger Games Phenomenon
-The World Is Watching: Making The Hunger Games
–Letters from the Rose Garden
-Controlling the Games
-A Conversation with Gary Ross and Elvis Mitchell
-Ultraviolet Digital Copy
So, if you can get past the field of holes in explanation and the lack of violence, you’ll find a film that has action, thrills, suspense, and a few laughs. It’s a nice two and half hours. Will I put it on when it starts showing on cable? Probably.
ComicsOnline gives The Hunger Games 3.5 out of 5 Mockingjays.
Keep aiming your pointy things at ComicsOnline.com for more Blu-ray reviews and everything geek pop culture.